The owl: undeniably beautiful, but not human
Walking through the centre of Edinburgh last week I was
struck by a large crowd gathered on the pavement. As I approached I noticed that the crowd,
made up mostly of tourists, were gawping at a rather large, impressive owl that
was perched on its keeper’s arm.
The crowd pointed, smiled, laughed and took a vast amount of
photographs with their mobile phones and state-of-the-art digital cameras. It was all very pleasing to the owl’s keeper
who must have been licking his lips at the prospect of a bumper pay day should
even a fraction of those gathered be brave enough to get up close and personal
with the beautiful feathered creature and let it sit on their arm.
If only there were more Dr Halliday Sutherlands today. Perhaps he would have the courage to stand up
for the rights of those who are under threat from the increasing prevalence of
assisted suicide in our world. Perhaps
he would have the courage to stand up for the rights of the preborn child under
threat of death by abortion.
Dr Halliday Sutherland, born in Glasgow in 1882, was a man
who stood up for the people society felt unworthy of life. He lived in a time when the middle and upper
classes of Britain fought for the legal right to sterilise the poor and the
Madagascar is a country riddled with debt, where the basic
right of a child to an education is far down the list of government priorities and
public expenditure on children is a paltry £31 per year, leaving very little
for a basic, let alone decent, education.
The situation is especially grim for girls who are often
denied any form of education so as to allow male siblings to benefit from the
opportunity to learn. Boys, it seems,
are best placed to go to school to learn.
Girls, it seems, are better off at home.
Pope Francis, during his weekly general audience, has slated
those who turn their backs on the poor, suggesting that their ignorance means
that they despise God.
The pope stressed that in the poor “we find Jesus himself:
whatever you did to the least brothers of mine, you did to me”.
The message is clear: we are called to wake up to the plight
of the poor and to make sure we never ignore them. I recall one of Pope Francis’ early comments
on the poor. He said that we must get
close to them as Jesus did, and touch their wounds.
Pope Francis welcomes some of the migrants to Rome
Pope Francis has once again thrust the Catholic Church into
the spotlight; this time by bringing a group of twelve Syrian migrants from the
island of Lesbos to live in Rome. The
families travelled with the pope back to Italy after he made a visit to the
small Greek island last weekend. It is
understood the three families, all Muslim, were fully prepped for the move
ahead of the pope’s visit.
The finer details of how all of this will pan out remain to
be seen, but the gesture itself is one of great love and generosity on the part
The posters erected around Nottingham City Centre urging
people not to give to beggars is quite concerning. Is poverty so abhorrent that it is to be
brushed out altogether from our streets?
Is it really appropriate to punish the poor and homeless even more by encouraging
the public to refrain from giving them a few pounds that we are able to spare? One
of the posters features a man smoking and urges people not to "watch your
money go up in smoke".
It would be fair to say that there may be some beggars who
are not necessarily homeless or financially unsound.
A number of weeks ago I saw a great post on Facebook about
making up gift bags for the homeless. I
followed this up with my own post on the matter and it was warmly
welcomed. But as with a lot of these
things the impetus faded and I never really got things properly off the ground.
But thank goodness for Lent!
The season for getting up off my backside and actually doing something
positive for those in need is here and I feel the need to respond. Our call to help the poor is, of course, a
year round one but Lent is a great time to really kick-start a new
The pope received several standing ovations in Congress
Pope Francis, in his historic address to US Congress, has urged the world to follow Christ’s Commandment of love. The pope used the opportunity to tackle critical issues such as the dignity of human life, the death penalty and the refugee crisis. He also addressed recent attacks on marriage and family life, and his concerns that the very basis of the family and marriage is being called into question.
Here are the main quotes from the pope’s address to USC ongress this afternoon:
Could this man help you find God?
Sunday’s Second Reading (James 2:1-5):
‘My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, ‘Come this way to the best seats’; then you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.
It’s a fabulous thing that a number of people have decided to commit to helping the thousands of refugees seeking safety and security in the UK. Some people have even agreed to house some of the refugees until they get themselves on their feet and secure their own accommodation. It is a truly remarkable gesture and together with David Cameron’s promise to bring thousands more refugees to the UK, heralds a shift in both the perception of refugees and the way we are willing to treat them.